People seem to love to complain. Nothing is ever good enough (or so it seems). Nothing ever goes right. Nobody likes things the way they are. Somehow it seems that if everything was perfect that people would complain about that, too!
Notice what James said about those things we normally complain about: “My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials…” (James 1:2 NET). Joy when we fall into trials? Joy? What planet was he living on?!
Perhaps he was living on a different planet, at least one with a different view point than we often have. You see, with Jesus as the centre of our lives, we should be viewing what happens to us differently than those around us do. Too often we allow ourselves to get caught up in doing what everyone else is doing. Complain about our circumstances? Well, just give me a chance because I can top their complaint!
But with Jesus, our lives are different. The difficult times we face (James calls them ‘trials’) can actually be good for us! Notice why this is the case: “because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:3). Endurance…that is something I’d like to have! But endurance only comes with experience – the experience of going through trials and having our faith tested. We may not appreciate what we are going through at the time, but we can use our trials as a means of spiritual growth. But there is more…
“And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything” (James 1:4). Isn’t this what we all want as Christians, to be perfect and complete? Don’t we pray that we will be mature Christians? How did we think we would become a mature Christian, not lacking anything? James tells us how this works: we do through trials, allowing the testing of our faith to produce endurance. And if we allow this to go to its logical end, we will be perfect and complete – we will be mature Christians!
Maybe rather than praying we won’t have to go through trials and temptations we should be willing to embrace them with joy, knowing that when we come through the other side we will be stronger Christians as a result. God has made us a promise concerning the trials that we face. “No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Rather than complaining when we are going through a difficult time, we need to learn to realise what is happening and with joy embrace it, knowing that with God’s help we will come through the trial and be a stronger Christian as a result.
Now what was that complaint you had?
Readings for next week:
22 February – James 3-4
23 February – James 5
24 February – Hebrews 1-2
25 February – Hebrews 3-4
26 February – Hebrews 5-6